It’s the first week of August, so we finally have some truly representative fantasy football average draft position data. We start off by looking at quarterback sleepers and busts, and try to sort out what exactly we mean by that term. It’s hard to be a part of the fantasy football community, because what makes for a sleeper quarterback? Like piranhas to a cow that fell into the river, we’ve cannibalized all the sleeper quarterbacks. Now, trying to find sleeper quarterbacks causes people to stare directly at Derek Carr’s completion percentage in weeks 12 through 17 on deep-middle throws to Darren Waller and extrapolating that he will be a good quarterback from there.
For me, it’s someone going as a “back-half backup” (which is to say a non-priority backup player–QB19 or later in a twelve-team league, for example) who has a chance to become a set-and-forget starter for your squad this season. Who cares if someone else has him as one of their quarterback sleepers? This is about winning, not about planting your flag.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (QB20, #141 overall)
I’m tired of pussyfooting around my handsome quarterback for fear of looking like a homer. The 49ers added Jordan Reed, who missed 2019 with concussion symptoms, on August 3. Deebo Samuel might miss time, but 2019 third-round pick Jalen Hurd looks ready to make his debut for the 49ers next year. San Francisco added Brandon Aiyuk to this whole setup, giving the 49ers four pass-catchers taken in the first three rounds. Ironically, the only one taken outside the first three rounds is superstar tight end George Kittle. He has tons of weapons at his disposal, and the fantasy football community has pushed worse quarterbacks up the board looking solely at their weapons.
Why not Handsome James? The silly narrative that the 49ers want to hide him or otherwise set him aside to run the football, probably. Here are facts: In 2019, Jimmy G led all QBs in yards per attempt (min. 300 pass attempts). He ranked fifth in total touchdowns last season, as well. Unfortunately, James didn’t throw the ball a lot, his 476 pass attempts ranked sixteenth of 20 quarterbacks to start at least 15 games last year. That depresses Jimmy GQ’s value, but the 49ers look primed and poised to throw more this year. Their running backs will be a retread third-rounder, a guy who hasn’t played in two years, an undrafted free agent, and someone currently on the COVID-19 list. Looks like the Niners will pass more this year.
There is a downside here: Garoppolo’s interception rate was higher than guys like Daniel Jones, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Allen, all perceived gunslingers. That’s likely due to Garoppolo’s playstyle, but those hurt your stat sheet either way. Plus, have seen Jimmy G’s chin line? Holy cow!
Drew Lock, Denver Broncos (WB24, #152 overall)
Remember how I said the “fantasy football community” has pushed worse quarterbacks than Jimmy G up based solely on his weapons? It’s me, I’m “fantasy football community,” and “worse quarterbacks” is Drew Lock. Lock had an up-and-down 2019 campaign. He missed most of the year with a broken bone in his hand and started out playing well, throwing five touchdowns and two picks in his first two games, including a complete beauty of a first career touchdown. Lock also kicked in 15 rushing yards in each of his first two starts. Unfortunately, things then fell apart for the 2019 second-round rookie, as he threw two touchdowns and a pick over the next three games while averaging 192 yards per game passing. As I said, Drew Lock had an up-and-down rookie year.
Now, the Broncos went out and loaded up on excuse crushers: Melvin Gordon, and rookies Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and Albert Okwuegbunam (Lock’s teammate in college). Throw those guys on the pile with Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and Phillip Lindsay, and you have a heck of a corps for Drew Lock to succeed in 2020. He could still end up busting, what with all the new faces and nearly no training camp, but that’s why he goes so late. You could scoop up some nice value with Lock in 2020 fantasy football drafts this year as a quarterback sleeper.
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars (QB29, #186 overall)
Gardner Minshew is currently on the NFL COVID-19 reserve list, one of two quarterbacks on the list. That doesn’t necessarily mean he tested positive, and in Minshew’s case, it seems as though he is on the list due to contact tracing:
That means great things for 2020 for Gardner Minshew! The Jaguars took Minshew in the sixth round of the 2019 draft and didn’t want to ever see him hit the field. They snagged Super Bowl MVP/BDN Nick Foles with a high money contract. Unfortunately, Foles broke his collarbone in the first game last year and the Jaguars yo-yoed between Minshew and Foles upon his return.
But in the games where he didn’t have to play looking over his shoulder after every bad throw to see if it was Foles’ time, he paced out to 3,800 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, five interceptions, and 440 rushing yards. That’s 286.56 points over the course of a full year, and last year’s QB9 scored 279.3 points, making Minshew a top-eight quarterback. He’s a slam dunk backup QB and a priority second QB n 2QB leagues.